2005-12-23 / Front Page

Titus Explains Medicare Part D

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

Kelli Singleton, of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suggests that seniors with EPIC should still enroll in a Medicare Part D plan to lower their costs drug costs. Kelli Singleton, of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suggests that seniors with EPIC should still enroll in a Medicare Part D plan to lower their costs drug costs. To better help people who must make a decision on the new Medicare Part D Drug program, State Assemblywoman Michele Titus, of Far Rockaway, hosted a seminar called ‘The Facts About Medicare Part D’ at the Beth Abraham Health Services, 18-21 Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway on December 15.

“Six out of 10 [seniors] do not understand the law,” said Titus, who said the forum was to help seniors and the disabled make a more informed decision about the complicated new program.

Kelli Singleton of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said anyone with a Medicare Advantage policy will be automatically enrolled with that company’s Medicare Part D plan. Those with prescription coverage through the Veteran’s Administration will, in most cases be better off staying with their plan. People with medical coverage from plans with former employers could lose that coverage if they enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. Seniors with EPIC do not have to join but were advised to.

Assemblywoman Michele Titus tells those at the seminar “Six out of 10 [seniors] do not understand the law [about Medicare Part D].” Assemblywoman Michele Titus tells those at the seminar “Six out of 10 [seniors] do not understand the law [about Medicare Part D].” “Medicare Part D will compliment EPIC,” said Singleton. “If you have EPIC you should sign up for Part D. You’ll pay less.”

For those with Medigap with prescription drug coverage, policy holders must decided if they will keep their current Medigap policy as it is, or switch to Medicare Part D. If they switch to Medicare Part D, they must let their insurance company know and change to a policy without prescription drug coverage.

James Glasser, who is the district manager of the Far Rockaway Social Security Administration office, explained what would happen on January 1 to people with Medicare and Medicaid.

Because Medicaid will no longer cover outpatient drugs on January 1, these people will automatically be enrolled in a drug plan. Low-income people, if they qualify, can receive all or partial help in paying for Part D.

Glasser also suggested seniors who are not taking any medicines at the moment should get a low cost Medicare Part D plan now.

James Glasser, the district manager of the Far Rockaway Social Security Administration office, suggests seniors buy a Part D plan now even if they do not currently take medicines, so they do not pay a surcharge later on. James Glasser, the district manager of the Far Rockaway Social Security Administration office, suggests seniors buy a Part D plan now even if they do not currently take medicines, so they do not pay a surcharge later on. “It’s like a car – you may not need the insurance now, but you might later,” Glasser said. “You may not need prescription drugs now, but in time you might.”

While the new prescription drug plan is a complicated one, there is help out there for those who feel like their heads are spinning from trying to figure it all out.

The Social Security Administration can help you figure out if you are eligible for help in paying for the premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

“HIICAP, [part of the Department for the Aging], provides free health insurance consulting to people with Medicare, and there are centers for people to enroll in Part D,” said Singleton.

Darnley Jones from the New York City Department for the Aging said, “We have 38 sites out there assisting the elderly with Part D.”

After the new year, a center will open at the Peninsula Library, located at 9225 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Rockaway Beach. Currently, the closest center to Far Rockaway is located at senior centers in Jamaica.

Since not all plans cover all medicines, are accepted by every pharmacy, or cost the same, these centers can help a person determine which plan is right for them.

“There is a site in the city at 2 Lafayette Street on the sixth floor,” said Jones. “They can check your online formularies (list of medications) and give you the information you need.”

One important thing to remember is that joining a Part D plan now is not essential. Those on Medicare have until May 15 to choose a plan. After that date, premium costs will go up by a 1% surcharge for every month a person waits to join.

For more information and assistance with Medicare Part D you can reach The Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at 1212-616-2222; Medicare at 1-800-6334227 and HIICAP at 1-800-333-4114. If you are on EPIC you can call 1-800332-3742. On the web, you can get more information on the program at www.medicare.gov.

Also at the seminar was Lani Sanjeck of the New York State-Wide Senior Action Council.

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